Summers are for family reunions, trips to the beach, reconnecting with childhood friends and in my case chaos at every turn. It seems as soon as I leave town all hell breaks loose. Like most of you I find myself at the end of my rope this time of year and am yearning to break loose of the daily yoke of work and responsibilities. I also feel compelled to reconnect with family at least once a year if for no other reason than to remind myself why I live 10 hours away… (just kidding Mom -love you! 😘 ) But every time I try and take a little break to recharge my batteries something goes haywire either with my trip /vacation or back home in Southern Pines at my little shop!
As many of you know I have a gift shop downtown next to the Sunrise Theater and I think of it as my child. I care for her, dress her up, have the best caretakers looking after her, but every time I leave the zip code, you can bet dollars to donuts a few things will immediately happen: The internet will crash, or the AC will stop working, or a customer will burn themselves with one of our tester candles. Basically, my baby acts out.
Sweet Courtney will call and begin with, “ I’m really sorry to bother you but…” and I know it has hit the fan. Last summer I was having lunch my first day in the Sunshine State when Courtney called saying that the register quit working, the website crashed and she was using the old fashioned carbon paper manual credit card swiper… (Do you remember those?) The poor young dear had never even seen one let alone used one before! The year prior I was at a Florida weekend wedding, tucked under a cabana so my pasty white North Carolina skin wouldn’t perish under the intense Florida heat and just as I was taking my first sip of a Rum Runner Courtney called with a, “I am so sorry to bother you but…the register just powered off and there is a line of people what do I do!” My man and I busted out our phones and began googling the malfunction as I watched my beautiful frozen drink melt and liquify into a sad hot soup…
Last month I left town for the day just to Raleigh and the AC broke and the internet went down… My sweet child, the shop which I have given my blood, sweat, tears, 10 years and 30 pounds to is an ungrateful brat!
To make matters worse, for what ever reason Florida, the place where I “escape” to every year has turned into a bit of jerk as well. The days of me waking up, taking a swim, eating a fish sand-o with a cold beer and then a dip back in the ocean are but a far away memory. My last few trips have kind of gone sideways. Last summer I spent several months in Florida helping my folks recover from surgery and mourning the death of my dear sweet Grandma Gloria. My usual escape to the ocean for my morning swim to clear my mind and reconnect with my inner dolphin was impossible as Red Tide swept through the Gulf Coast rendering the ocean and surrounding areas impossible!
However there is one never fail, always fun thing we do in Florida which I get excited about every year: my man and I stop over on the Atlantic side of Florida to visit his dad in Daytona. My father-in-law Charlie is a pretty tough character. A classic Irish Bostonian biker who is short with words and affection but once you are lucky enough to crack his rough exterior the man has a heart of gold. One time we were fixing up a house in NC and my husband called with an electrical question he couldn’t resolve, sweet Charlie drove through the night unbeknownst to us and showed up at our house the next morning ready to help!
The most fun thing to do is is to hit some of Charlie’s favorite biker bars where everyone greets him like Norm from Cheers. We have been going with him to this one bar enough years in a row now where we are greeted warmly as well. Bartender Debbie gives us a big hug and smile and from time to time some giant bruiser of a man will hulk his way over and just when I think I am about to be murdered he juts his hand out and thanks my husband for his service and buys him a round because tough Charlie who never says 10 words if 2 will do has been bragging about his boys enough in that bar that strangers recognize my husband by the photos Charlie has passed around…(slow tear).
So this summer as I head on down to Florida to help my folks with more surgery recovery as well as tossing a few back with Charlie and the gang I am hopeful that I can manage to take a swim in the ocean, help out where needed, reconnect with family, share a drink with my old friends while simultaneously not cursing Courtney and Jazzmon with my absence.
Courtney says I need a psychic to cleanse the building, I was thinking more old school Exorcist style “We are going to need an old priest and a young priest.” Send me your recommendations and well wishes as I finish off summer in old Florida where I am ever hopeful for success. Fingers crossed my miscreant shop child behaves herself, acts like the young lady that I have raised her to be and is good for her sitters- right here Under the Pines.